Post by Deleted on Jan 21, 2016 21:08:40 GMT -5
This takes place the night after StormClan [RainClan and LightningClan] chased StoneClan from their home.
Wolfclaw rose, green-gold eyes tired in the light of the moon. Large paws carried him away from the sleeping bodies of his broken Clan. He padded off, heading toward the open area that led to the cliff. Exhaling heavily, he dropped to his haunches. His head tipped back, gazing up at the stars above them. How StarClan could let this happen, he didn't know; his faith in them never wavered, though. They had taken Bearpaw from him, and now his mother, his father, and half of StoneClan. But still, he had to have faith. They couldn't stop everything, but that didn't mean they started it.
Another sigh; he shook his head and lowered his gaze, staring out at the valley. His territory was closest, the familiar stone stretching out until it met the river and the moors. What had possessed RainClan and LightningClan to attack them? Border battles, he could understand. But a heavily onesided attack, in their own camp?
Wolfclaw's forepaws slid forward and he sighed heavily. His large silver-rimmed head dropped to his paws. He felt like he had the weight of the world on his broad shoulders. Everything was happening so fast...
His mind swirled with thoughts, emotions, images. Of the cats they'd lost, bodies of three Clans lying motionless on the ground, angry eyes filled with rage and battle-lust, and blood, blood everywhere. He flexed the claws of one forepaw, noticing for the first time that his paws were still bloodied. He could have sworn he had taken the time to groom himself once they made it here... But then again, thinking back, he couldn't remember if he had. It was all blurring together..
The silver and black tom licked at his paw, each slow, gentle swipe pulling the dried life liquid from his fur. He didn't even know whose blood it was anymore. There were so many cats... He'd killed a cat. Wolfcalw's eyes widened in shock and horror. He had killed a cat. Shame swept through him, and his face buried itself in his paws. He, Wolfclaw, deputy of StoneClan, had taken the life of another cat. How..?
Memories came back, of fighting one cat, and watching another kill his mother, and seeing his father dying some distance away. A rage had filled him, one that felt frightening to him now. He lashed out at anyone and everyone who came near him, and one such cat was unlucky enough to snag in his jaws. He hadn't bit down, no.. He had snapped his head around and flung the body away from him. When the cat died was uncertain, either with the snap of the deputy's head, the fly through the air, or the heavy landing against rock.
It was only once he saw Hawkstar fall that he was able to bring himself back, reign in that fighting demon of rage. Once he noticed his leader's stillness, he cut his way through writhing bodies to stand over that of the sandy tom. Sides heaving, he had stood protecting Hawkstar from further attack, watching as bodies fell on both sides. His heart growing heavy, it became clear what he needed to do. Out of respect, he waited until Hawkstar's eyes fixed on him, a single nod shared.
With a heavy heart and a bitter taste on his tongue, he yowled those two sickening words. StoneClan! Retreat!
Wolfclaw's memories of the battle faded as he felt another cat sit down beside him. He lifted his head, guilt weighing him down. "Pantherstep."
The dark form of his sister settled herself next to him, and he rose back into a seated position. They were the only two left of their family, Wolfclaw and Pantherstep, brother and sister to Bearpaw, son and daughter of Boulderleap and Gorgeshadow. Their family ripped apart by battle and blood, and their bond had suffered. They weren't close, as most siblings were, and the loss of their little sister had driven the biggest wedge between them. With shame and guilt in his heart, he stared down at his paws.
How could he have let all this happen? His family destroyed, his Clan broken.. He shouldered most of the blame and guilt onto himself, though he knew he shouldn't, that he wasn't to blame. But that didn't relieve the weight on his shoulders and the heaviness in his heart.
Pantherstep was quiet for a while, leaving Wolfclaw to his silence. When she did speak, it was a low, quiet whisper, such that Wolfclaw didn't quite register it at first.
"I miss her too, you know."
"Gorgeshadow? I never doubted--"
"No. Bearpaw. She wasn't just your sister, you know. She was mine too. And I loved her just as much as you."
Wolfclaw's shoulders sagged with the weight of the conversation. "I believe you, but why bring this up now? I thought we'd buried this, when you blamed me for not protecting her, and accused me of being a disgrace to the family."
It was Pantherstep's turn to sigh. "That might have been a mistake. We were young; I was hurting, much more than I let on. I was tired of watching you be a ghost of who you were. I didn't know how to make you.. you.. again." Her vivid green eyes closed and her muzzle tilted to the ground. The silvertoned deputy gazed over at his sister, seeing something rare. It wasn't often Pantherstep let her stoic guard down, and for her to show her grief was something Wolfclaw couldn't soon forget.
"I didn't know what else to do. I thought anger, to cover up my own grief, would be better, but.. perhaps I should have shown my heart to you then, and we could have gotten through it together. Instead, I blamed you, shut you out. It's my fault were never close.
"For moons, I felt like I needed to keep that feeling, the anger, to protect myself. But in the end, I realised it was only hurting me, as I watched you grow. I know it sounds weird, since you're the big brother, but I loved watching you grow. You moved on, you coped, you became a rock for cats to lean on. And then Fallenstar.. when Hawkstar named you deputy, I was so proud. You had become something great, greater than I could ever imagine--"
"Pantherstep--" Wolfclaw looked at his sister in a new light, as she revealed herself to him.
"No, let me finish." She shook her head and closed her eyes, taking a deep breath before continuing. "I was proud of you, yet ashamed of what I had become. I could see how the roles had been reversed; you were moving on, and I was stuck in the past. I can't remember how long I tried to gain the courage to talk to you again, but by then it was too late.
"When we were attacked, my only feelings were fear, and then regret. I regretted not approaching you sooner, and I feared that it could've been my last chance. I was afraid.." Her voice snagged and she sucked in a deep breath, shoulders shaking. "I was afraid you would die, and that I would never be able to tell you everything. How sorry I am, and how proud of you I am, and how much I love you." Her breath came out in one long sob, as she shook with tears squeezing past her tightly shut eyes.
"Pantherstep." Wolfclaw shifted so that he pressed against his sister, lifting his head to guide her face into his neck. His tail wrapped around her body, and he held her there as she cried, his own eyes growing moist. They sat that way for a while, their hearts broken and open to each other.
He wasn't sure how long they sat there, but eventually, Pantherstep's shaking stopped, and she took in long, deep breaths to regain control. Wolfclaw gently licked the top of his sister's head, and when she pulled her face from his fur, he blinked slowly at her. She nodded once, sharply, as though shaking something from her head, and turned to look out over the valley.
Wolfclaw thought he saw a sorrow in her eyes, and he shifted his tail to wrap around her. "We'll make it back someday. I promise." He leaned slightly to press his fur against hers, and felt her lean into the touch. So much had gone wrong, in his life and in the past few moons for his Clan. But sitting here, even through all the death and destruction and bloodshed, on foreign lands looking over what was once home, he felt hope. The stars were bright above them. Pantherstep had opened up to him. Their relationship seemed to be on the mend, and StoneClan, though broken, would be strong again.
And with his tail wrapped around what was left of his biological family, with his extended family of StoneClan sleeping somewhere behind him, Wolfclaw's shoulders relaxed, and he finally felt peace.W O L F C L A W